Brave [movie review]
It’s fair to say that I loved Brave, even if nobody else did – I’m 13 points higher than the Rotten Tomatoes average.
If you haven’t seen it yet, spoilers are after the jump, but to summarize, Brave has just about everything I’m looking for in a movie and I’m even more impressed with the things it doesn’t have – things that are hard to leave out of a Disney princess movie. Let’s dig in…
For maybe the first time ever, I saw the third dimension!
I saw much more depth in Brave than I ever saw in Avatar, Coraline or Beowulf (just to name a few). The image was crisp, deep and totally immerse – it was everything I was promised in Avatar but didn’t get. I loved it. I never even thought about the 3D glasses fatigue I always experience because it was so beautiful I didn’t want to take them off for an instant. I still can’t believe how much I loved the images!
Environments, and Cinematography
The environments are amazing! It looked like they built a rich digital environment and then flew a helicopter around inside it. They were zooming up on the landscapes and floating over head, or following Merida as she raced through the forest on her horse like they strapped a camera to a humming bird or just sitting still on the image for a second in the great hall… It’s all good. The movie seemed to exist in this real place inhabited by these cartoony looking people, but the trees, the grass, the rocks, the buildings… awesome. That’s not to say that the people and animals look bad (the bears looks especially great – except the baby bears), but the people and most of the animals are done in a specific, Pixar-ish style, and it’s cartoony. That’s fine with me, it’s just that they didn’t approach a leaf or a waterfall, for example, with that style. It’s better that the bears looked so real – it made them scarier.
Story and Characters
I didn’t have a lot of use for anybody that was a member of the other three clans, but everyone from Merida’s clan/kingdom/whatever was awesome – with the exception of their nurse/maid/cook/whatever. She sucks, but I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to suck, so no bother. Anyway, the best thing I can say about this story is despite the fact that it turns into a buddy picture, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this particular buddy movie before, and that’s something. I also loved the little spirit guys (whisps?), who seemed a little out of place in this story, but were totally welcome. They reminded me of the little guys that lead the heroine astray in Spirited Away for some reason.
I loved that the witch doesn’t dominate the story – she set the second and third acts in motion and then basically bowed out, which I thought was great. She was accommodating and even if she did speak in riddles, she was mostly helpful and not really trying to screw Merida, even if it kinda worked out that way. It’s also significant that this movie doesn’t have a prince – it’s difficult to have a Princess movie without a Prince, but Brave pulls it off easily. But that’s the whole point, after all. Still, I’m sure there were plenty of meetings about adding a romantic side plot to this flick. “Who’s Merida gonna stand on a float with during the Princess Parade?” somebody asked. Uhm… the horse, I guess? The horse was awesome!
Oh, and this movie also doesn’t have a loud mouth comic relief character like the dragon in Mulan, the genie in Aladdin, which was a great relief. I hate to admit, I’m totally sick of Eddie Murphy cracking wise in these sorts of movies. (All the Shreks, Mulan, and then Chris Rock filling in for him in the Madagascar movies due to racial type casting.)
Yeah, critics didn’t like this movie and I’m not sure why. They said some really harsh shit, too; way to harsh for their 77% average score. Let’s respond to a few:
James Berardinelli, ReelViews
The tone is uneven and more often morose than joyful. The pacing is slow and at times almost tedious. The end result is something that feels like it was put together from a jumble of Disney clichés tacked onto the skeleton of Beauty and the Beast.
I guess it does have something in common with Beauty and the Beast, but morose? Tedious? I don’t know what movie you were watching. The pacing is not slow – this movie runs at an almost break neck speed. I don’t know what to say to this guy… I flat out disagree with everything he wrote.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
The Pixar name used to mean something. And it never quite meant pleasantly safe, safely forgettable movies like this.
Dude, what are you talking about? What’s so cutting edge about Finding Nemo? The title of the flick tells you what happens at the end of the story… it’s a friggin road movie with the same “Oh no, bigger animal gonna eat us!” scene over and over again. That’s at 98% on the Tomato Meter, by the way, which I do not understand. Did someone think they weren’t going to find Nemo at the end?
Kirk Honeycutt, honeycuttshollywood.com
A perfectly fine effort that lacks the Pixar touch of distinction.
Which was present in, perhaps… Finding Nemo, the most predictable movie ever? What did Pixar do that made everybody so mad? It’s like critics couldn’t wait to hate this movie.
And I don’t mean to keep picking Nemo, but critics fucking love Nemo for some reason but have an irrational hostility for Brave, so I thought it was worth comparing.
Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress
All too often, I felt like I was marking time waiting for the fairly obvious plot to follow its inevitable course.
Really, you saw the whole bear thing coming? I doubt that. Well, this guy might live in the woods (Asehville, NC), so maybe he did see the bear thing coming. (You know what they say about bears shitting in the woods, right? Right. This guy knows all about that.) I don’t think you can come down to hard on a children’s movie for being predictable. I mean shit, what the hell sort of ending did he want? Something like Inception? Maybe this guy would have been happy with the parents killing each other in the final scene, or the bad guy killing the heroine – then he would have given the movie a 90%! “I didn’t see that coming!” raves Ken Hanke.
Phil Villarreal, OK! Magazine
Faint praise is all that this movie is worth, but that’s much more than you could say about Cars 2.
Ah, now I get it. Critics are kicking Pixar while they’re down because they hated Cars 2 (38%). Hey jackasses, didn’t you see Cars (74%)? Remember how predictable and shitty it was? (Now that is a movie you can complain about for its predictability – from the very first scene, you know exactly how the movie is going to end, exactly what is going to happen in the last scene… and then you have to sit there for an hour and half and wait for it.) What made you think the second one would be better? They both have fucking Larry the Cable Guy in the flick!
Anyway, I’m just going to assume that all of you critics thought Finding Nemo was better than Brave because you’re sexist. (Sarcasm.) I mean shit, Brave is good for a Princess movie. The last one I saw was Mulan (86%) (which I was forced to watch and discuss over the course of 6 brutal hours in college, by the way), and Brave is waaaaaaaaaay better than that piece of crap. Sheesh, was the lack of some boisterous comedian voicing an animal in this flick bringing the score down? I don’t get what the critics wanted f